Sugar occurs naturally in foods that contain carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. This type of sugar pose no problem and occur in the context of fibre, water, minerals, antioxidants and other healthy constituents. Your body digests these slowly so the sugar offers a slow steady supply of energy to your cells 2. The issue is when you consume too much added sugar, found in baked goods, confectionary, desserts, syrups, honey, soda, juice and energy drinks. High amounts tend to also be found in: yoghurt, breakfast cereals, processed meals, soups, tomato sauces, condiments, cured meats and snacks, many of which many people do not think as sweetened 3. Read on to find out what the main health risks of added sugar are:
We are overconsuming sugar and one of the biggest threats from added sugar is weight gain. Added sugar lacks fibre, so your body digests it quickly. This causes blood sugar levels to spike, leading to an insulin surge, which can cause hunger 4. In addition, excessive sugar consumption may cause resistance to leptin, the hormone that regulates hunger and tells you to stop eating 5.
Excessive sugar consumption has been associated with an increased risk of diabetes by contributing to weight gain and increased body fat, which are risks for developing diabetes. In addition, high sugar consumption drives insulin resistance, which causes blood sugar levels to rise and strongly increases your risk of diabetes 6.
Studies have found a link between sugar intake and specific types of cancer. Sugar increases inflammation in your body and the risk of insulin resistance, both of which increase cancer risk 7. A diet rich in sugar also can lead to obesity, which significantly increases your risk of cancer 8.
Heart Disease and Chronic Inflammation
There is an association between a high-sugar diet and a greater risk of dying from heart disease. This may be because high amounts of sugar overload the liver. The liver metabolises sugar and converts carbohydrates to fat, and overtime can lead to a greater accumulation of fat, which raises your risk of heart disease. In addition, too much added sugar raises blood pressure and chronic inflammation, which are risk factors for developing heart disease 2.
The bottom line
The evidence shows too much added sugar is hugely problematic for your health. What to do? Try to avoid added sugar, keep an eye on the labels of packaged food, and choose sugar-free options such as Elly Momberg’s products which are free from added sugar.
- Intermountainhealthcare (2017) Added Sugar.
- DiNicolantonio. JJ., Lucan. SC., and O'Keefe. JH. (2016) The Evidence for Saturated Fat and for Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 58(5) pp464-72.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2020) Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition.
- Luo. S., et al. (2015) Differential effects of fructose versus glucose on brain and appetitive responses to food cues and decisions for food rewards. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 112(20) pp6509-14.
- Johnson. RJ., et al (2017). Perspective: A Historical and Scientific Perspective of Sugar and Its Relation with Obesity and Diabetes. Adv Nutr. 8(3) pp412-422.
- Stanhope KL. (2016) Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of the controversy. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 53(1) pp52-67.
- Chiefari. E., et al (2021) Insulin Resistance and Cancer: In Search for a Causal Link. Int J Mol Sci. 22(20) pp11137.
- Crudele. L., Piccinin. E., and Moschetta. A. (2021) Visceral Adiposity and Cancer: Role in Pathogenesis and Prognosis. Nutrients. 13(6) pp2101
- Transparentlabs (2022) Added Sugar Products.